[Marxism] UCLA student stunned by Taser plans brutality lawsuit

Ralph Johansen mdriscoll at earthlink.net
Fri Nov 17 10:48:32 MST 2006


  UCLA student stunned by Taser plans suit

/Stuart Silverstein/
LA Times 
<http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/california/la-me-ucla17nov17,1,4599352.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-california&ctrack=1&cset=true>
Friday, November 17, 2006

The UCLA student stunned with a Taser by a campus police officer has 
hired a high-profile civil rights lawyer who plans to file a brutality 
lawsuit.

The videotaped incident, which occurred after the student refused 
requests to show his ID card to campus officers, triggered widespread 
debate on and off campus Thursday about whether use of the Taser was 
warranted. It was the third in a recent series of local incidents 
captured on video that raise questions about arrest tactics.

Attorney Stephen Yagman said he plans to file a federal civil rights 
lawsuit accusing the UCLA police of "brutal excessive force," as well as 
false arrest. The lawyer also provided the first public account of the 
Tuesday night incident at UCLA's Powell Library from the student, 
Mostafa Tabatabainejad, a 23-year-old senior.

He said that Tabatabainejad, when asked for his ID after 11 p.m. 
Tuesday, declined because he thought he was being singled out because of 
his Middle Eastern appearance. Yagman said Tabatabainejad is of Iranian 
descent but is a U.S.-born resident of Los Angeles.

The lawyer said Tabatabainejad eventually decided to leave the library 
but when an officer refused the student's request to take his hand off 
him, the student fell limp to the floor, again to avoid participating in 
what he considered a case of racial profiling. After police started 
firing the Taser, Tabatabainejad tried to "get the beating, the use of 
brutal force, to stop by shouting and causing people to watch. 
Generally, police don't want to do their dirties in front of a lot of 
witnesses."

He said Tabatabainejad was hit by the Taser five times and suffered 
"moderate to severe contusions" on his right side.

UCLA officials declined to respond directly to Yagman's statements, 
saying they still were conducting their internal investigation of the 
incident.

The university said earlier, however, that Tabatabainejad was asked for 
his ID as part of a routine nightly procedure to make sure that everyone 
using the library after 11 p.m. is a student or otherwise authorized to 
be there. Campus officials have said the long-standing policy was 
adopted to ensure students' safety.

UCLA also said that Tabatabainejad refused repeated requests by a 
community service officer and regular campus police to provide 
identification or to leave. UCLA said the police decided to use the 
Taser to incapacitate Tabatabainejad only after the student urged other 
library patrons to join his resistance.

Some witnesses disputed that account, saying that when campus police 
arrived, Tabatabainejad had begun to walk toward the door.

In a prepared statement released late Thursday, UCLA's interim 
chancellor, Norman Abrams, urged the public to "withhold judgment" while 
the campus police department investigates. "I, too, have watched the 
videos, and I do not believe that one can make a fair judgment regarding 
the matter from the videos alone. I am encouraged that a number of 
witnesses have come forward and are participating in the investigation."

Meanwhile, student activists were organizing a midday rally today to 
protest the incident, and the Southern California office of the Council 
on American-Islamic Relations called for an independent investigation.

The incident follows the recent announcement that four of the campus 
police department's nearly 60 full-time sworn officers had won so-called 
Taser Awards granted by the manufacturer of the device to "law 
enforcement officers who save a life in the line of duty through 
extraordinary use of the Taser." The award stemmed from an incident in 
which officers subdued a patient who allegedly threatened staff at the 
campus' Neuropsychiatric Hospital with metal scissors.

Jeff Young, assistant police chief, declined to indicate whether any of 
the honored officers were among the several involved in Tuesday's incident.





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